Priest Lake – A North Idaho Treasure

Cavanaugh Bay, Priest Lake

Cavanaugh Bay, Priest Lake

Priest Lake is one of Idaho’s northernmost natural treasures. This pristine lake runs 19 miles from head to toe (this includes Upper Priest Lake) and is about 4.4 miles wide at its widest point. With depths up to 369 feet, Priest Lake is the perfect destination for fishing, boating, swimming, SCUBA diving, and wildlife viewing. The area occupied by Priest Lake is generally divided into five regions, north of Priest Lake, south of Priest Lake, the lake, the east side of the lake and the west side of the lake. When planning a trip to Priest Lake be sure that you explore everything this area has to offer.

North of Priest Lake
The region north of Priest Lake is where you want to go if you are interested in unspoiled wilderness. Here you will not only find some of the most spectacular wilderness areas, such as the Salmo-Priest Wilderness Area, but you will also find great trail systems and points of interest. Some of the sites that you will want to tour in this region include the Granite Falls, the ancient growths of cedars at Roosevelt Grove, and the Shoe Tree.

The Town of Priest Lake
The main attraction to Priest Lake, Idaho is the lake itself. While the town itself is unassuming, relaxed, and unhurried, it is the lake and the wilderness areas surrounding it that draw the majority of its visitors. The town’s own saying is a testament to this fact, “Priest Lake – Where Mother Nature Vacations.” Their amazing lake is well known for superior fishing. In fact, Priest Lake is where the largest lake trout in the United States was caught. It weighed in at a whopping 57 pounds 8 ounces. Today catching one of these whoppers is still possible; however, the average lake trout in Priest Lake will weigh in around 10 pounds.

In addition to fishing, you can also participate in a variety of great watersports on the lake. You can go jet boating, water skiing, swimming, SCUBA diving, snorkeling, kayaking, or you can just float around the lake on a pontoon boat. You can also explore the 70 miles of shoreline which include great beaches and historical Indian rock pictographs.

The East Side of Priest Lake
If you don’t have a lot of time to spend at Priest Lake then you will want to focus your vacation activities on the east side of the lake. This is where the greatest concentration of attractions can be found. Here you will find the Priest Lake State Park, the famous Lion Creek “Slippery Rocks,” the Selkirk Alpine Lakes, the Moose Lake Fishing Pond, Mount Roothaan, Sundance Mountain, and Chimney Rock. This is an excellent wildlife viewing area that is full of great hiking trails. If you’re a photography buff don’t forget your camera equipment as this is an excellent area to capture beautiful scenery and wildlife images.

The West Side of Priest Lake
The west side of Priest Lake is also rich with attractions. However, this side of the lake is known mainly for its man made attractions, the Priest Lake Library and the Priest Lake Museum. This side of the lake still has some beautiful natural attractions that you can enjoy such at the Hammerflats Cedar Grove.

South of Priest Lake
The final region of the Priest Lake area is found to the south of the lake. Here you will find the Priest River Experimental Forest, the Whitetail Butte, and Gisborne Mountain. As you explore this region don’t forget to bring your camera and your bear spray. This region is rich in wildlife including Grizzly Bears, deer, elk, and birds of prey such as the majestic American Bald Eagle.

A Lake for All Seasons
While the peak of tourism season on Priest Lake is the summer time, this lake is also a great winter destination. The area surrounding Priest Lake offers over 400 miles of groom trails for snowmobiling, numerous ski areas, and plenty of opportunities to explore the local wilderness during one of the most beautiful times of the year. From snowmobiling, to snowshoeing and cross country skiing, it is still an accessible and beautiful area to enjoy!

For more information about Priest Lake and other North Idaho vacation spots, please contact Rhonda Sand or Linda Bruno at 1-800-975-7775. You may also request more information from them by emailing TMI Tours at [email protected].